April 27, 2010 | 09:26 am

Tuesday – Religulous

While writing this I am watching the movie Religulous by the comedian Bill Maher. It is a documentary that aims to show the folly of religion. Hence the play on words: religion is “religulous.” I am sure that you are wondering why a pastor is watching a movie that is anti-Christian. In my defense, Maher is very funny. But I am also intrigued by how he depicts religion because he raises questions that are on many people’s minds.

It may not surprise you that he has a problem with the book of Revelation, which focuses on the final age where the renewing and reconciling work of God comes to fruition. Mayer’s position is that belief in a glorious future is fabricated to appease those who cannot face the reality of this life. Interestingly, the Christians he interviews are almost exclusively literalists who do not acknowledge symbolism and metaphor in the Bible. This makes for better repartee, but it does not make for a balanced debate. This brings us to this week’s text, Revelation 21:1-6. It depicts God “making all things new,” and in the end “mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” It is the glorious end that Maher rejects, but he does so by rejecting the details of how the end is envisioned. Revelation is not a playbook that reveals specifics of the when and how of the movement of God. Through its symbol-laden text, it instills hope that even when present-day challenges seem insurmountable, progress is possible, good overcomes evil, and our lives can contribute towards an end that brings peace. Faith in God calls us forward rather than accept a laissez-faire approach to what is. I don’t think this is “religulous.’ I think it is what keeps us going when everything around us tells us it would be easier to give up.